I attended meetings where hits were planned, says witness in 'Glebelands Eight' trial

2020-03-25 09:39
The trial against the Glebelands Eight continued with testimony from the state’s fourth witness in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday. Last week, the court conducted an in loco inspection at the hostel in Umlazi.

The trial against the Glebelands Eight continued with testimony from the state’s fourth witness in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday. Last week, the court conducted an in loco inspection at the hostel in Umlazi. (Nompendulo Ngubane, GroundUp)

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"In Glebelands, you were supposed to be careful, be alert and know who you were talking to before you say anything," a state witness told the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Monday.

The fourth state witness to testify in the "Glebelands Eight" trial told the court on Monday he became a police informer after seeing those close to him being murdered in the Glebelands hostel, GroundUp reported.

He said the killers were known, but people were too scared to inform the police.

The witness, a deputy secretary in block 52 who testified in camera, said he had attended meetings where plans were hatched to kill William Mthembu and Thokozani Machi in the hostel, but he had never killed anyone.

The eight accused - Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele - face 22 charges, including nine of murder, seven of attempted murder, the illegal possession of firearms and racketeering.

Phone call

During the previous hearing, the witness revealed a reward of R160 000 had been put up for a hitman to murder Mthembu and Machi, known as the big fish at the hostel. Both were shot and killed on 12 September 2015 in Montclair.

When cross-examined by advocate Martin Krog, representing Mdweshu and Ntshangase, the witness said he began dealing with the police after the murders of Mthembu and Machi in 2015.

He said three days before they were killed he received a phone call.

"The person said he was working at Umlazi GG police station. He said he wanted a meeting with me. I told him I cannot talk while in Glebelands but I can only meet him at work."

The witness said he could not recall the policeman's name.

Krog asked if the witness had been involved in any of the crimes before he was contacted by the police.

He said: "Issues were discussed in my presence but I never killed anyone. I'm not saying I did not commit any crime. I was present at meetings where they talked about killing these people [Mthembu and Machi]."

The trial was adjourned at lunchtime after court interpreter GG Khoza raised concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic.

"All the courts have closed down and people have been sent home. Our health and safety is a right, not a privilege. We don't know how safe we are.

"We have not been told what is happening in the building as we are continuing to work. We are placing our lives at risk and also placing our loved ones at risk by continuing working under these conditions," said Khoza.

Lawyers representing the accused all indicated they were willing to continue the hearing, but Judge Nkosinathi Chili postponed the case to Tuesday.

But on Tuesday morning, the case was postponed to 20 April. All the accused will be remanded at Westville Prison until their next hearing.

Read more on:    durban  |  political killings
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